Nestled in the hills and mountains in North-Eastern part of India, lies the state of Nagaland. With just 16,579 sq kilometre area, the state is one of the smaller states of India. Nagaland has an estimated population of 1,980,602 in 2011. It is surrounded by Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh on three sides and the country Myanmar (Burma) on the fourth side.
The terrain of the state is mostly mountainous and has a monsoonal climate which is a mixture of wet and dry with high humidity levels. In winter, the temperature goes down to 4 °C and as high as 40 °C in the summers.
About one-sixth of the land is covered with green forests – Nagaland has tropical and subtropical evergreen forests, coniferous forests and secondary growth too.
The animals found in Nagaland are Elephants, tigers, leopards, bears, several kinds of monkeys, sambar deer, buffalo, wild oxen, and the occasional rhinoceros live in the lower hills. Porcupines, pangolins (scaly anteaters), wild dogs, foxes, civet cats, and mongooses.
The longtail feathers of the great Indian hornbill are used in the traditional ceremonial dress of Nagaland.
Here are two historical rituals that used to be a major part of Nagaland:
1. Head hunting:
A male activity where women encourage men to an expedition against other tribes or neighbouring kingdoms, and kill to score a number of heads they were able to hunt as a prerequisite to marriage. If successful, the head hunter would be given ornaments as a sign of his win.
2. Feasts of Merit
In order to find their place in the social hierarchy and keep increasing social status, men had to be a head-hunter or a great warrior, participate in many conquests among women or complete what was called merit feasts
Only married men could give the feast of merit. The Wife would be a prominent figure during the feast and as such would be given a honoured place to depict female co-operation and interdependence. She would brew the beer which the male then offers to the guests. This event bestowed honour to the couple from the tribe. After the Feast, the tribe would give the couple rights to ornaments equally.